09/25/2002 7:01 pm ET
MLBeat: A multi-positional prospect
Utley to see time at third, second
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley, one of the organization's top hitting prospects headed to the Arizona Fall League next month, may see time at positions other than third base.
The left-handed hitter, a former first-round pick, may also play second -- his original position -- for the Grand Canyon Rafters.
"He's gonna play a little bit of everything, but mostly third," said manager Larry Bowa, who plans to visit the AFL.
Utley made 28 errors at third this season for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; he was moved to the hot corner to possibly replace Scott Rolen. The fact that Utley is going to see additional time at other spots doesn't necessarily represent a change in the organization's thinking.
"He just needs to play and continue to get opportunities to develop," said general manager Ed Wade. "We think his versatility helps him become an everyday player at a number of positions. We want him to be prepared to help us.
"Ideally you find one position and let him get comfortable there. At some point if the composition of your club or other factors dictate it, you can make that adjustment. There are a lot of very good players who have been able to play a number of different positions."
Like Pat Burrell, for example, who played third base and first base in the organization before an opening in left field created another switch.
"At the time, we were criticized for bouncing this guy from one position to the other," Bowa said. "But what you're trying to do is if the guy shows that he's got the athleticism and versatility to do that -- you're trying to find the best possible way to get the bat in the lineup."
Wade OK with doctor's advice: Wade also didn't have any concerns about not sending Vicente Padilla for an MRI before he returns to Nicaragua for the offseason.
Wade said team doctor Michael Ciccotti assured him Padilla's injury was simply stiffness in his right shoulder, the result of pitching 329 1/3 innings since the end of last season.
"Dr. Ciccotti said if Vicente had a structural problem, he'd have reacted during the examination," Wade said. "I think we'll go with the best medical advice we have."
Wade said the team will get updates on Padilla's arm in the offseason, while the right-hander rests to get ready for the 2003 season. This includes not throwing winter ball, something he had always done.
"We'll make sure he's ready to go when Spring Training comes," Wade said.
Rolen with the punches: Hearing that Scott Rolen and the Cardinals are reportedly close on an eight-year, $90 million contract, Wade wasn't surprised.
"I knew they would get together," Wade said. "I think that was just a part of St. Louis' level of interest in him, and I think they had a pretty good idea that Scott had a strong interest in them. I would've been surprised otherwise."
Negotiations are ongoing, and Rolen is eligible for free agency after this season. The Cardinals acquired Rolen on July 29 for Placido Polanco and pitchers Bud Smith and Mike Timlin. St. Louis and has made it no secret it hopes to retain him beyond the 2002 season.
An All-Star for the first time in 2002, Rolen is hitting .283 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 50 games since the trade. He is two home runs short of matching his career high (31) and five RBIs short of tying his personal best (110).
Rolen turned down a seven-year, $90 million offer from the Phillies over the winter, with options that could have made the deal worth $140 million over 10 years. The Jasper, Ind., native said the Phillies lacked a commitment to winning.
Rolen said nothing is official.
"I haven't commented on anything about my contract since I left Philadelphia, and that's the way I plan on staying."
If one is announced, count Burrell among those who won't be surprised.
"That's where he wanted to be," he said. "It's a hell of a deal."
Giambi still wondering: Jeremy Giambi, half of the record-setting brother home-run duo, is still wondering about his role in Philadelphia.
He has played sparingly in recent months after spending time at first base and left and right fields. He has hit .247 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs with the Phils. The number that jumps out, though, is his .440 on-base percentage.
Still, the organization is non-committal on how Giambi fits into the future.
"Hopefully, if I don't get an opportunity here, I'll get one somewhere else," Giambi said. "I know they have rights on me for two more years."
Philling in: Randy Wolf and Brandon Duckworth will start the first two games of the Phillies' final three against the Florida Marlins. Sunday's starter will most likely be Hector Mercado or Eric Junge. ... Bobby Abreu's 17-game hitting streak is the longest by a Phillies palyer since Doug Glanville's 18-game streak in 1998. If Abreu runs the table, he will tie the Phillies' record of 22 games set by Chuck Klein (1931) and Chick Fullis (1933).
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.